The formation of the empire in 1870/71: how Bismarck bribed many bribes of Bavarian King Ludwig II

The formation of the empire in 1870/71: how Bismarck bribed many bribes of Bavarian King Ludwig II

history The empire was founded in 1870/71

As Bismarck many bribes bribed Bavarian King Ludwig II

In fact, William I of Prussia did not want to become “Emperor of Germany” in 1870. But his prime minister, Otto von Bismarck, tricked him behind his back – and ruined the sticky Bavarian king with millions of gold marks.

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Cambo Bismarck King Ludwig II of Bavaria Cambo Bismarck King Ludwig II of Bavaria

Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck skillfully played with the financial needs of Ludwig II of Bavaria (g.)

Source: picture-union / Mary Evans Library, picture-union / dpa

ZPeople do not go to extremes unnecessarily – whether it is real or imagined. For Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the North German Confederation and Prime Minister of Prussia, the reference to the sovereignty of the people and their will was certainly the last chance to achieve the goal. Because the monarchist hastily hated any democratic impulse.

Yet in November, 1870, he could not have done otherwise. Because the wayward, unstable King of Bavaria Ludwig II refused to establish a small German empire under Prussia, which was to consist of the North German Confederation and the South German kingdoms and principalities of Baden, Württemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt, and above all. Thus, during the negotiations he pointed out that if Ludwig refused to establish an empire “from above”, that is, by German princes, it would probably happen “from below”.

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combo emser dispatch

It wasn’t even an exaggeration. Because at this time the Munich lawyer and member of the state parliament Marquard Barth gathered more and more supporters who advocated the closest possible connection between Bavaria and Prussia. This put pressure on Ludwig II – a situation that Bismarck was happy to put pressure on the negotiators of the stubborn king.

“In an attempt to make Wittelsbach’s dolls dance, Bismarck pulled every suitable wire,” the court ruled. Otto plant 1990 in an important biography of Bismarck. Even before that, in 1986, a Marxist Ernst Engelberg It is written in his stimulating book about the founder of the empire: “The idea of ​​pressure from below on the dynastic franders was also not entirely alien to him.”

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“Let the Wittelsbach Dolls Dance”: Bismarck in his office during the war against France

Source: alliance image / akg-images

Ludwig II ceded: on November 23, 1870, the representatives of Bavaria signed a treaty with the North German Confederation, according to which Bavaria joined the constitution of this federation. But for Bismarck this was not enough; he wanted, in fact, going under pressure “from below”, to use the dynamics to establish a small German nation-state in Central Europe.

However, his only real boss, King William I, did not want this under any circumstances – he felt like a Prussian monarch and did not want to be anything else. So Bismarck continued to cheat. The small German “empire” could rely on imperial dignity, which ended in 1806 since the time of Charlemagne – eventually, the Habsburg rulers in Vienna renounced any claims to the “German” empire through the title “Emperor of Austria”.

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The young Kaiser Wilhelm II during his inaugural visit to Otto von Bismarck (right) in Friedrichsruch, probably in 1888.

Bismarck had to make a secret diplomatic masterpiece: to persuade William I to accept the imperial crown (and thus open the pressure valve “from below”), the proposal had to go from the King of Bavaria. The trustee of Ludwig Maximilian von Holstein met with Bismarck and asked for areas of Baden. Bismarck flatly refused, but noted that Bayern could get a piece of annexed Alsace (which never was).

On the other hand, Bismarck was generous financially: it was agreed that Ludwig should first receive a larger down payment and then 300,000 gold marks a year; Holstein secured a ten percent stake. A classic case of corruption. Since William I was never allowed to learn of the transaction, Bismarck used the confiscated assets of the Kingdom of Hanover, annexed in 1866. By 1886 alone, about six million gold marks had flowed into Ludwig’s private box.

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UNKNOWN - December 16: Portrait of Ludwig II (or Louis II) of Bavaria (Munich, 1845-Lake Starnberg, 1886), King Ereninzel of Bavaria, Herrenchiemsee Palace (New Palace), Museum of Koenig Ludwig Ista (Masta) ) Getty ImagesGetty Images

In return, the “fairy-tale king” was ready to make an offer to the much older Prussian monarch, which he could hardly refuse. Holstein asked Bismarck for a project, which Ludwig followed on November 30, 1870, with a few minor changes.

In it, the Bavarian welcomed the fact that from now on Wilhelm would exercise “presidential rights over all German states.” He therefore “appealed to the German princes with a proposal together with me to offer Your Majesty to combine the exercise of the presidential rights of the Federation with the use of the title of German Emperor.” The circular to the German rulers (and the free cities) had the same date as the Kaiserbrief, November 30, 1870. This was a trick characteristic of Bismarck, formally unknown but clearly securing his will in terms of content.

Ludwig II's

“Kaiserbrief” from Ludwig II to King William I from November 30, 1870

Source: alliance image / akg-images

On December 3, 1870, the miner Holstein handed over the Kaiserbrief in Versailles to the Prussian king, who at first reacted disappointedly, but then signaled that he would not close. On December 18, he officially informed the North German Reichstag deputation that he would comply with the prince’s request.

At the same time, the accession treaties between the North German Confederation and Baden, Württemberg and Hesse were ratified; they came into force on January 1, 1871. The German Empire was created, but initially without Bavaria. Only on January 21 did the Landtag in Munich accept the Bavarian treaty with the North German Confederation by 102 votes to 48; By his signature, Ludwig II entered into force this ratification on January 30, 1871, with retroactive effect before the beginning of the year. The first tranche of the bribe has already been paid by this time – by the way, through Switzerland.

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Sven Felix Kellerhoff

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